Soundtech, Biomed in Nonlinear Careers of CCRMAlites at Open House 2024

John Chowning‘s discovery of FM synthesis led to a highly successful patent enabled John with Leland Smith, John Grey, Andy Moorer, and Loren Rush to found Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) in 1974. Pierre Boulez would later consult with the CCRMA founders when creating IRCAM in Paris in 1977, installing the same computer, a DEC PDP10, so that the two centres could share software. CCRMA celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and the Open House 2024 took place on Thursday / Friday, 16-17 May 2024 at the Knoll.

Elaine Chew was part of Friday’s panel and lightning talks, 50 years of CCRMAlites: Their experiences and career journeys organised by Rodrigo Segnini who for the past 15 years has worked at Siemans Healthineers. Although not a graduate of CCRMA – her studies at Stanford were in mathematical & computational sciences (Mathematics, Statistics, Computer Science & Operations Research) and music performance (Piano) – Elaine’s career has intersected with the center and she has returned to Stanford to give talks and perform at CCRMA, and is a longtime honorary CCRMAlite. While at IRCAM 2019–2022, two CCRMAlites joined Elaine’s research group: CosmoNote software engineer Lawrence Fyfe and Marie Curie postdoc Emily Graber.

Nonlinear career paths was a common theme of the session, which included personal accounts from Orchisama Das (soon joining KCL as a postdoc with Zoran Cvetkovic), Leigh van Handel (UBC music theory/cognition), Ryan Cassidy (Apple Airpods), Beau Silver (QSC), Ge Wang (CCRMA faculty: design), Takako Fujioka (CCRMA faculty: neuroscience), and Gautham Mysore (Adobe Research).

Thursday’s Open House program featured “lectures, hands-on demonstrations, posters, installations, and musical performances of recent CCRMA research including sound synthesis, online music-making, data-driven research in music cognition, and a musical instrument petting zoo.”

Apart from the alumni “where are they now?” lightning talks, Friday’s events included a look at CCRMA’s history as the center celebrated its 50th anniversary, with historical presentations, and a John Chowning & Friends concert. Elaine joined the Chowning & Friends photo for having hosted John and Maureen Chowning’s distinguished lecture and concert in London in 2018 with Giulio Moro and Dan Stowell.

Elaine was delighted to meet Douglas Keislar, editor of the Computer Music Journal, for the first time. Douglas had reviewed Elaine’s book and Elaine is on the advisory board of the CMJ. They had corresponded but not met until now.